Is open source communication possible?

Is open source communication possible?

Summary: Our own George Ou has a long item up today questioning whether WiMax can deliver its promises of true open source communication.He will get no argument from me.

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TOPICS: Open Source
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Our own George Ou has a long item up today questioning whether WiMax can deliver its promises of true open source communication.

He will get no argument from me. It's very possible I've been laboring under great misapprehension, and that so have many WiFi advocates. If WiMax can't get frequencies cleared it can't fulfill its potential, that's for certain.

Which brings up an important point. The power of open source lies in the community's ability to freely use and share important resources, to drive creativity and economic growth. It certainly works that way in software.

Frequency regulation was originally designed to do the same thing. Early radio stations interfered with one another. So we had the 1927 Radio Act, creating a regime to prevent interference and enhance the growth of the medium.

Ever since then, we've mostly treated the frequency spectrum as proprietary, as property that could be given, or sold, by the government. There are people who regard any other regulatory regime as, frankly, Communist.

But is it? Is frequency naturally scarce, scarce enough that the government should own it or sell it? Science tells us it's not. Even now we're using huge swaths of the frequency spectrum that could not have been used before. Do you have a satellite dish on your house? Do you know it's receiving data in bands like 11 GHz, and higher? In fact we're now using frequency bands as high as 38 GHz, frequencies that were quite unusable before.

The open source idea of frequency is that it's like an ocean, not a set of railroad tracks, and it should be regulated based on the principle of non-interference, not on the principle of private ownership.

I would argue we have a lot more creativity, usage and economic growth going on in the unlicensed bands, like those used for WiFi, than in those the government has sold. And it's economic growth, not private property rights, that should be the goal of regulation.

Unfortunately we're moving here into the realm of politics, not science and not business. Whether our frequency regulation makes sense is up to our leaders, which means in a democracy it's ultimately up to you.

If George is right (and again, I'm not arguing with him) then WiMax's promise, and the promise of open source communication, is being hemmed-in by political and regulatory Cluelessness. Those countries that truly deregulate are going to get the economic jump on us.

The struggle for open source is, in this instance, a political struggle.

Topic: Open Source

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10 comments
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  • Contesting a point.

    "But is it? Is frequency naturally scarce, scarce enough that the government should own it or sell it? Science tells us it's not."

    This isn't quite true. Signal behavior changes depending on where you are on the spectrum. Depending on your function and needs, frequency can indeed be scarce.
    Zinoron
  • But how?

    "The open source idea of frequency is that it's like an ocean, not a set of railroad tracks, and it should be regulated based on the principle of non-interference, not on the principle of private ownership."

    But how do you enforce non-interference, except by registering (licensing) who is using what frequency and restricting access to that frequency to others?

    Carl Rapson
    rapson
    • Re: But how?

      [i]But how do you enforce non-interference, except by registering (licensing) who is using what frequency and restricting access to that frequency to others?[/i]

      Have you ever monitored an Ethernet LAN? There are packet collisions (interference) aplenty but they're invisible to the users on the network. I guess this would work along the same lines.


      .
      none none
    • smart gear

      Smart equipement is capablde of sellecting free spectrum and avoid interference.
      but this doesnt avoid some user/equipement from ogging to many resourecs
      BUGabundo
  • What the He** has open source have to do with anything?

    Man, you really are out there.
    No_Ax_to_Grind
    • Dana is referring to free-for-all unlicensed WiMAX radio communications

      I wasn't sure what he meant initially either so I clear it up with him. Dana is talking about letting the public (the people) be free to put up their own high-powered WiMAX equipment on spectrum that is currently restricted to licensed frequencies.
      george_ou
  • high power, high problems

    the greater the power output of a transmitter the more likely it is to interfere with other traffic adjoining the allocated bandwidth. I am not sure what you mean by "high power" whether you are talking about 10 watts or 10,000 watts.
    A 10,000 watt transmitter in the wrong hands could wreak havok for 50 miles (or more) surrounding the transmitter depending on what frequency it was broadcasting. High power radio transmission needs to be liscensed.
    pesky_z
  • Free range radio!

    We may not have the "power" to start with. But we will have the bridge and that's a start. My neighborhood is connecting. A few of us are using outdoor antennas, super cantennas,and even some home made junk. 3Com (I hear) is comming out with a nice wireless bridge next month.

    I understand Wimax is just getting it's start. But even at that, it won't have the line of site issues. It also offers a wider range of device connections. I don't see WiFi fizzeling out like the modems of yesterday. But with two wireless technologies, and brides to other wireless and cable/DSL connections. Dana is not that far off in what he's trying to say here.

    We are also now able to load up VPN,3rd party,and GPL firmware on wireless devices. We can become more secure,share connections, and be connected for free in many ways. Sure, some won't share their paid for connections.

    But others say, "Share the Software and share the bandwidth"

    BTW, Intel seems to be banking on Wimax and Intel's Software and solutions group doubles down on Linux. Says Eweek.
    xstep
  • The WiMAX steamroller

    and the WiMESH will carry ALL (radio) communication on the planet. If you can connect to the WiMESH from anywhere, then what "other" radio channels do you need? Free radio? Streaming audio. Free TV? Streaming video. Cell calls? WiMAX VoIP handhelds. All other phone calls? VoIP. What about Nextel-like walkie talkies? Streaming audio from IM.

    The WiMESH will replace (i.e. destroy) radio and television broadcasters, telcos (cell and landline), ISPs, and Video rentals (bye, bye blockbuster and Netflicks). Heck it may destroy booksellers and the US Mail service (but that's a stretch).

    The corporate/governmental world will still need their optical fiber networks for security and bandwidth needs, but joe average citizen won't use that much bandwidth, and the WiMESH will be MORE THAN ENOUGH for their needs.
    Roger Ramjet
  • Bravo, Dana!

    ...and see www.openspectrum.info for more ammunition.
    openspectrum